Blog Episode 27: Thriving After Cancer with Amor Traceski

Episode 27: Thriving After Cancer with Amor Traceski

05/18/2022




🎶 Podcast Intro: Welcome to the pursuing uncomfortable podcast, where we give you the encouragement you need to lean into the uncomfortable stuff life puts in front of you, so you can love your life. If you are ready to overcome all the yuck that keeps you up at night, you're in the right place. I am your host, Melissa Ebken let's get going. 🎶

🎶 Episode Intro: Hi friends. This is Melissa Ebken your host. Today, I'm introducing you to Amor Traceski. And she is a warrior in a tiny package. Amor has survived two life-threatening bouts with cancer and is here today to tell you how, not only she has survived, but how she thrives. I hope you will be as inspired by her story as I am. 🎶

Episode
Melissa Ebken  0:00 
Hello friends and welcome back to the Pursuing Uncomfortable Podcast. I want to introduce you to Amor. Amor, welcome to the Pursuing Uncomfortable Podcast. How are you?

Amor Traceski  0:17 
Hi Melissa. Excited. I'm so excited to share. Thank you so much for having me on.

Melissa Ebken  0:21 
Anyone who has the name Amor. Love. Absolutely. I'm gonna have you on my podcast. And the little that I've known about you that we've been acquainted, I can tell that you are aptly named. Love just pours from you. So kudos to your parents for forseeing that.

Amor Traceski  0:41 
Thank you. Thank you so much.

Melissa Ebken  0:44 
So Amor, tell us a little bit about what you do these days.

Amor Traceski  0:47 
Well, what I do these days is I am an active volunteer in my community. I coach cancer patients, I volunteer at the hospital's Cancer Center. I also volunteer with the local Penn Valley Lions Club, to help those who are struggling in the community, those who are less fortunate those who are victimized by the wildfires and all that stuff. So it's so fulfilling to be able to share and to give my energy and my time it just makes this world of I want to make this world a better place in my own little way. And so that's what I do these days. And I also, I live with my partner, Bill, and we travel together and we work on his his business together too. And so we're here in the Sierra foothills of Northern California, little town called Penn Valley, surrounded by nature, and just really blessed to be up here in the in the mountains.

Melissa Ebken  1:54 
And I know one of your favorite things to tell yourself and to have others tell themselves is to choose and believe in yourself. And I can see how you've done that in your life. And I would like to give the viewers or viewers, this is a podcast a podcast is an audio experience. Follow me for more tips friends. So the listeners a little more insight into why you do what you do. Can you tell us about how you are now one who partners with folks who have cancer?

Amor Traceski  2:29 
Well, it all started, I'll go back to before cancer. I was a I was a successful human resources executive in the corporate world. And my my job was to fix problems, to make the business grow with its employees, etc, etc. And I took in all the problems and thinking that I can make everything right for everybody. And it stems from my having been having been trained by the nuns that I went to school with or who, who taught taught me in school, they said my name is Amor, therefore I should be the personification of love. And therefore I should share everything and forgive and give give, give, give, give, give, give give. And anyway. So I did that through the rest of my for all my life. And I thought because I did so I could be I was in control of my life, I thought that I was strong. And I thought I could make all the choices in the world. And which I did to a point, I just didn't choose my health, I chose others before me. So from there, I got the shock of my life when I got my breast cancer diagnosis. And when I first got that, that's when I felt that I had no choice. That I had lost control of my life. And so with that I just lost control of my life and I gave control to the doctors, I followed everything they told me to do. I had a mastectomy and a dip flat reconstruction surgery with where they made a 22 inch incision from one end of my hip to the other. That's that's so that they can make a create a new left breast from the fatty tissue that I had there. That was super, not just super painful, it was just overwhelming. The whole experience was overwhelming. But I thought okay, I could be strong through this. And I could just show everybody that I'm strong that I'm loved and I can I can take all of this, but I wasn't really validating my needs. I wasn't respecting my needs. I was being strong for other people. So, so what Sorry,

Melissa Ebken  4:57 
Can I just butt in here for a minute? because this is so much here. The word cancer, gosh, it just has to stop you in its tracks. When you hear that word, it's hard to hear anything else after that word. I haven't been in that position, but I can only imagine what that experience might be like. And then you're having the surgery that's redesigning your body. Yeah. That's just so much.

Amor Traceski  5:29 
That was a lot. Yeah. Um, gosh,

Melissa Ebken  5:33 
and a lot of trust in other people.

Amor Traceski  5:35 
Yeah, that was I, gosh, I don't know why I'm tearing up. The thing going through cancer, even once is it's a lot of trauma. But it is life. And you, you're forced to learn to accept it. And a lot of the times you don't think that there's, you have a choice. I fortunately, was able to discover my strength through my cancer. Before I had cancer, my self esteem was super low. And that comes from my, I was sexually molested as a child. And so I thought, okay, just given to authority, and I don't have a voice. So I brought that with me. And so when I had cancer, it kind of came back. I don't have a choice. I have to just follow it. I didn't know that at that time. So it was all unconscious course. Given the word cancer, the shock was death, okay, I'm gonna die. And I'm not I'm not ready yet, but I don't have a choice. A good, awesome thing from this experience, is how on the third day, after I was sent home, to recover from all my wounds, I had four drain bulbs coming out of my body. It was was my torso was all battered. And I might have my left breast wasn't there, except the new one, there was a fake left breast there. The, on the third day, I started shivering, and I started just getting the chills. And so I just drank hot tea and covered myself with warm blankets. I lived alone at the time. And I didn't, I didn't think anything of it. I thought it was part of the recovery process. But then the chills just, they intensified. And I was my teeth were chattering. So I called my neighbor to help. And she says Amor, we got to call 911. And I says no, I'll be fine. But she called 911. Anyway. And by the time they got to me, my fever had gone up to 103.5. And I still didn't think anything of it. But the paramedic-firefighters who rescued me. They said, ma'am, we got to take you to the ER I says I'm, I'll be fine. It's okay. You know, through my chattering teeth. I'll be fine. It's okay. I don't want to go back. I was just there. But the thing about it was I saw the worried looks on their faces. And I says okay, I'll go but on one condition. And they said, Sure, what is it and I said, I'll go as long as I have a picture taken with all of you in it. A group picture. Well, they looked at me, like I had grown another head; like I was just off my rockers. And I explained to them that when a girlfriend of mine had fallen at home, they call 911. And she told me that the paramedic-firefighters who picked her up were super cute. And I wanted to see pictures, but she didn't have any picture to prove it. So I said, here's my opportunity. You're here right now. I need that picture. So they gathered around me, they gathered around me and we got the picture taken. I have a picture with me. And the best thing about that was it was super I because my body was failing me. I was in such pain because I couldn't take any of the pain meds, the drain bulbs. Everything I was in, my body was overwhelmed. And my body was dying. But my I was so happy. I was exhilarated. I was beyond the moon. I was so happy and I didn't understand how could it be that my circumstances are so dire. And yet I'm happy? It didn't make any sense. And so that night and it was about, it was past midnight. They drove they drove me to the ER and then the after the processing there I got into my own room and they covered me with warm blankets and I couldn't move I had all sorts of antibiotics on my right arm. They couldn't use my left because that's where my mastectomy was. And I had the lymph nodes removed. So it was all in my right arm, and that they turn off the light so that I could sleep. But I couldn't sleep, I couldn't move. I couldn't eat, I couldn't do anything. And that feeling that of exhilaration that I had earlier, all of a sudden was replaced by a sickening feeling of dread and abandonment and loss. And I started crying that I just didn't know what to do. It was such a depth of loss and despair. I just cried. And I cried out to my God, and said, Lord, I'm lost. Help me. Please help me. And all right, so anyway, next thing that happened, out of the corner of my I saw a man standing right there by the doorway. It looks like a specter. And he was coming towards me, my first thought was Jesus? No, it was actually a male nurse came towards me. And he was there to take my vitals that night. Two-three o'clock in the morning. I found myself asking him questions like, Okay, what's your name? How old you Hello, have you worked here? Are you married? Single? What are you doing? And as I was engaging in conversation with him, and he was answering my questions, I felt my spirits being lifted again, I felt something awesome. But I didn't know what it was, when he left. That's, I pondered that and realize, wait a minute, I initiated that energy. I actually was the one that created that energy, with the strength that I found in me, that I didn't know I had, I had control over my spirit, in my thinking, even if I had no control over my circumstances. And so with that, everybody who came into my room, the doctors, the nurses, the health aides, the janitors, the room service people, I started asking about themselves, their names, their ages, you know, children, their dogs, and cats, and all sorts of stuff. And they got to know me, I got to know them. One thing that I know made me do was it made, it took away my focus on what I couldn't control, and allowed me to create possibilities for myself. And with that, creating the possibilities, it just energized me so much that my body followed, and that the healing started. And so I eventually was sent back home, went into remission. And I thought I was already strong, having learned about choice and initiative and, and positive mindset and all that. Then, three years later, I was given my second diagnosis of ovarian cancer.

Melissa Ebken  13:10 
Well, before we go into that one, okay, I'm captivated by this moment that you've described in your, in your hospital room at 2, 3, 4. In the morning with this person, from the tiny bits of your story that I've now heard, this is a big statement for me to make, and it has a lot of assumptions. So please correct me if I'm wrong. But is it fair to say that, for the first time in your life, maybe, that you chose your strength, and you chose how you would interact with people in this world? You've documented a history where you were molested, where the nuns gave you your directive for life and how to move through this world. And you spend a lot of time focused on others and their well being and their energy, but here in this moments in the hospital, where it one moment, you pictured or imagined, that you were dying. And then the next moment, there's this rebirth of who you are, and you claiming your power and your voice and your choice in this world. Yeah, am I over dramatizing it here?

Amor Traceski  14:25 
No, you hit the nail on the head. It's so true. It really is. It's, it's such a switch. And I have I really have to say that and even though I was raised by the nuns, I wasn't super religious. I thought I'd be a nun but didn't work out but it's okay. I really, for me, it was believing. For me, it was believing in a higher being and that allowed me to believe in myself and know that knowing that I had a choice in dire circumstances, helped to clear the way for things to fall into place. And and guide me in moving forward

Melissa Ebken  15:25 
what a beautiful moment.

Amor Traceski  15:27 
Yeah, it was, it was amazing that I'm so grateful I am so blessed that I, I know that if I had not asked for it, because I know so many cancer patients or even those with debilitating, debilitating situations, they feel that they're, that they don't have a choice. That's it, that's this is the card that was dealt to them. And they don't have a choice. But we do have choices. And we do have strengths, that some of the strengths we don't even know we have. But we can draw out of it, as long as we believe in the possibilities of growth, through the challenges. So believing in ourselves, believing in possibilities, it is about choice, because there's so much in this world that continues on, that's not within our control. But what is within our control is our mindset. the choices that we make. And we may make the wrong choices. But the choice to let go of those mistakes is another choice, to allow it ourselves to move forward.

Melissa Ebken  16:48 
Now I understand why you say choose and believe in yourself.

Amor Traceski  16:53 
Yeah, it's huge it like it continues every single day. We have a choice. We have a choice to, to latch on to the negative to latch on to the past that actually just change ourselves from moving forward. We have that choice, or we have the choice to let go. So I made a big choice when I was a child to forgive the person who wronged me. And when I really let go, its like the past is the past done over with non existent.

Melissa Ebken  17:33 
You were the one freed in that choice,

Amor Traceski  17:35 
I was the one freed in that choice. It gave me the freedom to be happy. I think of that person who molested me continuously for five years. And I don't have this burden of hatred, or resentment or anything else or even guilt that this happened to me. Why did this happen to me, that kind of a thing. I I am free of that. I I really believe that forgiveness is a gift. But it starts with that choice of this the willingness to forgive and the desire to forgive. And once you have that, and you can let go and practice that constant forgiveness, there's so much peace. And when there's peace, there's our ability to grow from that and make this world a better place.

Melissa Ebken  18:30 
Gosh, thank you so much for sharing that with us. That's a superpower. Forgiveness. I mean, I could talk all day about the power of forgiveness. And there have been days when I have. But there are medical professionals who are releasing studies, Johns Hopkins University Hospitals and others that display and show just how powerful forgiveness is. That there are direct physical health consequences of holding on to things. Yeah. So thank you for giving us a real life example of how that has manifested in your life; into good things by using that superpower of forgiveness that freed yourself and gave you this life that you have.

Amor Traceski  19:17 
Oh, no thank you for allowing me to share that. Because it really I look back and I only had to ask. I only had to ask for guidance. I only had to make that choice. So

Melissa Ebken  19:31 
the universe, the universe wants us to succeed and we have it sometimes it'll challenge us, Is this what you really want? Is this what you really want? But when we interact with higher power, however you choose to name it whether you name that God or whether you name it spirit or source or whatever, or universe however you call upon that. There is power there that will be provide for you. That you can connect with. And thank you for giving us another example of how that has happened.

Amor Traceski  20:08 
Oh, you so welcome. I must say that God, universe, higher power, I really believe that we as humans are limited in our comprehension of what is much bigger than us. That we try to put words and try to describe it in human terms. That's where faith comes in. Faith and believe in yourself. And there's something there you can't describe. But it's there it all you have to do is just look around at everything surrounding us. The trees, the sky, whatever, even the bed the the the asphalt is there, there. And there's something much, much bigger that science cannot cannot put into logical terms. And faith is a lot huge, a lot huger a lot. Much, much bigger than, than anything that is human humanly comprehensible.

Melissa Ebken  21:20 
And I'm glad you have that in your life, because now we're going to get to this next step in your story. But unbelievable, after all, that you'd experienced so far. Now, we're at this point.

Amor Traceski  21:35 
Yes. So three years after my remission from or my diagnosis of breast cancer, I was given the diagnosis of ovarian cancer. And I thought that, well, I was calm in my reaction, because I thought, okay, I had breast cancer, I dealt with cancer, I can do this again, and I'll beat it. And I thought that I had the strengths and those strengths that the hidden strengths of superpowers that I, I learned, I discovered in myself, I thought. Okay, I'll use those superpowers, and just fight that battle that I have to fight and win. But I was, it was so fierce that I was knocked over time and time again. I had a radical hysterectomy, this time where they made a 12 inch vertical incision from the below my breastbone down to my pubic bone, and the having to; what do you call this? Recover from that was super complicated. Then I had to go into chemotherapy. And what I discovered was, yeah, my spirit can be strong. And my positive mindset can be strong. And I can rise above the, the pain and the physical challenges that I was going through. But I couldn't do it all the time. I was battered and bruised, and I was my head was reeling. And I was coming face to face with that how many times and I was because of the fatigue and the weakness and the constipation and the neuropathy and the mouth sores and everything that I was going through. I didn't know what to do with my I I couldn't eat I couldn't sleep. I couldn't. I mean, it's just I was feeling so weak and I'm feeling so defeated. And I really was trying to get that faith in me again. What I discovered my another aha moment was that there's several actually more strengths came out through the adversity. Oh my gosh, more strength came out. And the one time was when I was sitting, and I would describe describe them as lightning bolts hitting every bone in my body, and I'd just be sitting there and I wouldn't do I wouldn't be doing anything. They would just be hitting my bones. And I would just flinch with pain every single time. And I was in you felt and this was yes, this was part of the side effects from chemo. And so I took Vicodin to help with the pain. Didn't help. I laid on ice packs because it also felt like a pinched nerve, you know when you feel a pinched nerve, but it was pinched nerve all over my body. It was it was overwhelming. And I was in tears. At that time I was with Sean and my, my, my, my partner's son and he said Amor, what can I do? And I says turn on the TV. And he turned it on. And he was going, we're going through the channels. He says, What do you want to watch? I says, let's, I saw America's Funniest videos. And I said, Okay, let's stop there. And he goes, okay, there is no logical reason for me to stop that on America's Funniest videos. But when we want, we started watching it. I just watched it with a glassy stare. Like, it wasn't affecting me. But as I continued on, I started finding myself just giggling, is chuckling at the silliness of it all. And then I started laughing. And after the show, the pain was still there, but it was muted. And it was interesting, because right after that, I stood up, and I went to the medicine cabinet, where I had all my different medications. And the one thing just glared at me. And it was gas X. There's no reason why I, I took it for no logical reason. Like, I didn't think I had gas. But I I took it. And when I took it, the pain went away. Wow. I it was like a miracle? Because I, I didn't know why I was so drawn to that of all the medications that were there, I had so many pain meds. It that was the one thing that actually took my pain away. I found out later on that when you have that, when you have the gas, the medication, the chemo drugs, can create gas in your body and with the gas can then press on to the different nerves in your body, and cause the pain that I was feeling.

Melissa Ebken  26:50 
Yeah, it has nowhere to go.

Amor Traceski  26:52 
Yeah, and it has nowhere to go. It presses on the nerves. And I but I didn't know it at that time. But something says Amor, take the gas X. And I did. And that was the answer. And so that was one. And the other aha moment was when I was this is a big one. I remember just being in such pain again, feeling weak. And at a loss. And I remember sitting in my living room, looking out the window to the garden. And I I said look at Lord, if this is my time, if I'm to die, then so be it. But please take care of my family take care of my daughter, my Bill. Thank you and I was just tears were just pouring down like a waterfall. I was saying okay, here I am. I'm ready. Thank you. Please take care of my loved ones. And I was crying so much. And then after, after crying, then I was able to just breathe. And some certain time had passed and I started thinking, Okay, now what? I cried. I came to face to face with death. I said, Okay, I'm ready to die. Now what? I'm still breathing, I'm not dead yet. What do I do? And that. So from then on, I'm like, Ah, I realized, wait. From here on to my last breath; we're all going to have our last breath. We're all going to reach that point and transition out of this life. I have a choice. What am I going to do? Well, I don't want to live with fear anymore. I don't want to live with insecurities. I don't want to live with negativity. I want to be happy. I want to take charge. I want to create my own possibilities. These are the things that I want. And if someone doesn't like me, or you know if people judge me, that's, that's they have a right you know, they can do whatever they want, but I'm not going to let other people's opinion of me direct my life. I, with my faith and my my desire to live a fulfilled life, I am going to do this I am. I just going to. There's nothing stopping me now. If I if I go out and I I'm afraid to talk to someone that I need to talk to or ask a question that may be seen as wrong or what but if I feel it's the right thing to do, I'm just gonna go for it. And because it's just a matter of just trying it out and if it doesn't fit then fine, someplace else does fit. So that was a big aha moment because that's where I then made the decision to move forward. And of course, in moving forward, I had what's called chemo brain. And I don't know if you know what chemo brain is. But for those who don't know what it is, it is when you go through chemo and the toxic drugs go into your system to battle and to kill the cancer cells, they also kill the good cells. And of course, our brain is part of the body. And so it goes, the chemo drug also goes into the brain just to kill if there's any cancer in the brain, it'll kill that too. But because of the effects of those drugs, you get, your mind is foggy, your brain gets foggy, and some parts of it die away. And so, to hold on to certain things, I would get more overwhelmed than I used to. I used to, in my old job, be able to juggle complicated tasks at the same time; hold many conversations at the same time and still be able to follow each one. But but with my chemo brain, and like, well, I, I will not be able to realistically return to my past positions. I was a director of human resources in corporations and dealing with all sorts of problems and conflict and growing the business. So I knew I would not be able to go back. So the next question was, What can I do? Moving forward? You know, what's, what's my the next chapter in my life. And that's when I realized that as a cancer patient, both in my breast cancer journey and my ovarian cancer journey, one thing that was missing was a central resource that would provide me answers to questions of what's it like? What's it like to go through chemo? What I do when I go through certain side effects? How do I tell the people I love or or how do I continue work? Or, you know, how can I? How can I take this, this feeling of fatigue away? And how can I deal with all sorts of things because cancer is both a physical, as well as a ment a mental and emotional journey that is extremely difficult, and it's overwhelming. And I would get information from so many different places. And some some of the information I get would be conflicting. And and then, of course, to find people who are survivors who are willing to speak about their experiences and give me practical advice. It was hard to find it was hard to talk to people, I didn't know what questions to ask what they were willing to share. And so I thought, okay, Amor, you know, a lot of cancer survivors now and cancer patients, why not talk to them? And so I did, I started engaging and oh my goodness, that experience. In interviewing, I actually interviewed about 25 cancer patients and survivors, stage one to stage four. Those who've had three different cancers, those who've had cancer since they were in their 60s, and now they're in their 90s. It made my experience, my two experiences with cancer, like, okay, I have this, but there are a lot more, who have gone through worse than I have, and it really made me realize that I'm blessed. And my one story is not enough to help the number of people that I want to help, and then there's so many different ways of resolving or dealing with cancer. And so I created this cancer reference manual. It's about it's three pounds and eight and a half by 11. And has almost 500 pages. And it's kind of like a do it yourself when you have cancer. It's a cancer support. It's a cancer support group. In in paper, that's what someone described it as. And so I created this one stop shop, without even with 50 pages of medical terms that are sometimes Doctors throw at you all sorts of medical terms you don't know, you know what they're about yet.

Melissa Ebken  35:03 
So you have a vocabulary quiz in it?

Amor Traceski  35:05 
Yes. Yeah, I have about 50 Page glossary. And it also in there I also have humor quips, you know, when you belong in the cancer when you're amongst cancer survivors, and you don't want to talk about cancer all the time. It's, it's, it's like, okay, if I have, I can't control my cancer right now. I'm recovering. But let's talk about something else. So we have jokes amongst ourselves, we call the IV that we're the drugs that we're taking, we call it a cocktail. And we'll have a margarita with our with us, you know, but of course, fake Margarita. It looks like a margarita, you know, and, and then there's prayers, and then there's songs. And there's a lot of sharing. There's there's cartoons. And there's of course, integrative health care. Acupuncture. Tell us the name of it. The name of my book? Yes. Oh, yes, I'm sorry. It is Been There, Done That. And the subtitle is, Practical Tips and Wisdom, From Cancer Survivors For Cancer Patients.

Melissa Ebken  36:14 
Been There Done That; Practical Tips and Wisdom From Cancer Survivors, For Cancer Patients

Amor Traceski  36:20 
Perfect.

Melissa Ebken  36:21 
There is a link in the show notes for that. So go ahead and get the book. If you don't have cancer, I'm betting someone you know, does, or will. So have that resource so that you can share it with them or have it for when you need it yourself.

Amor Traceski  36:41 
Yes, thank you. Thank you, I, my mission in life is to help as many cancer patients and survivors as I can. Survivors, even though they have completed treatment, you still go through post traumatic stress disorder, PTSD. You the're are too many, unfortunately, who feel that, okay, I had, I had cancer, I lived through it. And I don't want to do anything anymore. I'm tired. If I were to travel and enjoy myself, I may get cancer again. Or I feel guilty that I survived. And my friend didn't. There's so many things that paralyze those who have survived cancer. And because of medical advances, there are more survivors more and more survivors nowadays. Unfortunately, there are also more and more cancer cases. But the thing is, just because you have cancer, doesn't mean you can be you cannot be happy. Just because you're sick does not mean does not mean that you cannot make choices for yourself to laugh and to, to share. One of the featured survivors my book, Reverend Linda Siddell. Oh, I love her she, she recently passed of Stage four Pancreatic Cancer, which she had for six years. But throughout her cancer journey, yes, she was mad. But throughout her journey, she called the shots. And she allowed herself to be human, to have her pity party and believe that you should be able to, to validate your humanity. But she also said I'm going to eat this. I'm going to ask the doctors the questions that I need answers to. I am going to engage with life. She was still able to go out and, and preach her sermons to everybody. She had her ups and downs like we all do. But even though she died of pancreatic cancer eventually, recently, cancer did not beat her. She beat cancer. And I believe I beat cancer because cancer tries to take your spirit away from you tries to take your mind it tries to make you feel like you're not in control. But you, we can all be in control. To the very end. It's our choice.

Melissa Ebken  39:19 
Yeah. And you know, I'm gonna interrupt you again, I'm so sorry. No, go ahead. I just had this epiphany that when you were outside and you're speaking to spirit, to the universe, that you had come to terms that you were ready, if death was your calling at that point. And I feel like spirit was saying, okay, gotcha girl. But can you live? And I feel like you've answered that question for yourself. That you chose to live. And that's different than surviving. Choosing to live is a much different future than surviving. And that's what I hear you describing in your friend Linda, though she recently passed, she chose to live.

Amor Traceski  40:07 
Yeah, yeah, we we live until our last breath. Unfortunately, because of our human tendency to allow negativity to, and discomforts in life to, to take over, because it's so easy to just go around and around and think, oh my gosh, this is awful. Oh my gosh, you know, what am I going to do? Oh my gosh, so I'm at a loss. It's so easy just to focus on that, and, and then therefore go on a downward spiral and go into depression. It's so easy to do that. But when we realize that we have a choice, and we can believe in ourselves. We, that has a power in itself. And I know that a lot of people with that we don't just live or survive, we thrive and thriving in life is embracing and engaging the good and the bad. I see challenges as opportunities to grow. And in, there's a Chinese, a Chinese character, of of Chaos. And in the, in the character, and I don't know, if you're familiar with Chinese characters, they've got wiggly things all over, right? So in the Chinese character of Chaos, there's you would have the wiggly things, or the strokes that go downward. And then you have this the line, the horizontal line above that, and then you have a vertical line. And the wiggly things are the strokes that go upward? Well, that they what they're describing, there is a plant, a tree a seedling. And in order for the plant, to grow, and to be able to withstand the storms of life, it needs to grow downward and allow its roots to latch on to the ground and create that strong foundation. So that the stem, the stem in the tree can eventually grow and flourish and not topple over. So adversity and challenges in life are there for us to appreciate and grow from. And when we believe in ourselves, we make the choice to, to see that the challenges as "Okay, their challenges." Without making stories about "oh my gosh, this is awful, da da da da," it's more of, "okay, this is what I have in front of me. What can I do, and objectively as much as possible, go through it, process through it, learn from it." And for me, a big thing is, be grateful, be grateful for the challenge, be grateful for the ability to, to take on the challenges and be grateful for the strengths that both you have and the strength that you're going to gain from the experience. And I wanted the things that that helps me to be grateful is to think about those who have less than me, those who are going through the war, those who are babies going through cancer or other diseases. Those who are homeless. When I went, it really puts life into perspective. And so when I think of my hardships and my difficulties, even when I was going through cancer, I that's when I thought of those who had it worse than me, it gave me this charge of you know what, I should be thankful I can move out of this. I can do this. There's certain things I cannot do. I'll let it be like my physical circumstances, the doctors will guide me through that, but my mind, my spirit, their mind, and therefore I will allow it to give me that charge to move forward. And it's helped. I've grown so much since.

Melissa Ebken  44:25 
It's such a beautiful story you share filled with a lot of trauma, a lot of heartache and a lot of the awful stuff. But the way that you have moved through that in the way that you choose to believe in yourself and encourage others to do the same. The way you chose yourself in your first cancer journey and then the way you chose life in your second cancer journey. Thank you for sharing that with us. I think that's going to mean so much to those of us listening in.

Amor Traceski  45:01 
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to start. Our paths crossed for reason. And it's just it's amazing. Everything that happens, it's, I believe in the choice to look to focus on the good. And any, anything that is disempowering is there for it's how we look at it. If we look at it as negative, disempowering, not helping me and all that stuff, and I don't like this yucky situation that I'm in, the belief itself allows me to say, "Okay, I, I have the choice to just deal with it, and move forward or, or look at it and go down and let it take over me." And of course, I choose

Melissa Ebken  45:58 
That's exactly why I started this podcast, lean into those difficult and uncomfortable things and kick them out of your life. Yeah, don't let them make your choices for you. Kick them out,

Amor Traceski  46:09 
Right. Yep. The cancer. It's like I see the, the pandemic that we've been going through. So for too long. I see that as a cancer, and it eats up. It is eaten up. Inside so many are we're tired of it. Why is it still here? There's so many, so many questions we have and we're frustrated with communications of how to deal with it. And this is there's so many, there's so much negative that comes from it. It's like a cancer that meet that that's out there. But it's our choice to allow the cancer with a pandemic, to get into our heads and keep us from enjoying and appreciating what we have in life.

Melissa Ebken  46:57 
You're right, and I'm going to close with your message that we began with "choose and believe in yourself."

Amor Traceski  47:06 
Yes, choose and believe. You're so welcome Melissa. Thank you!

🎶 Episode Outro: Thank you so much for tuning into today's episode. If this encouraged you, please consider subscribing to our show and leaving a rating and review so we can encourage even more people just like yourself. We drop a new episode every Wednesday so I hope you continue to drop in and be encouraged to lean into and overcome all the uncomfortable stuff life brings your way. 🎶


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Hello Friends!

Hi, my name is Melissa Ebken, and I'm so glad you found your way here. 

I am at home in the difficult spaces of peoples’ lives, willing to listen and to support those who work to grow themselves. I am a trained coach and have consulted with churches in conflict. Not your stereotypical minister, I embrace the Gospel with joy and laughter as I seek to help those around me grow in faith and understanding, always striving to leave people better than they came. An agent of wholeness, I create a safe space for people, especially those who have been marginalized, where they can understand how ridiculously loved and valued they are by God/Higher Power/Spirit, and to experience the difference that makes in life. 

I started the Pursuing Uncomfortable Podcast to share the stories of people who have faced life's most difficult challenges, to inspire you to lean into and overcome your own. It's helpful to know that you're not alone in your struggles and to see how others have navigated similar circumstances. You can listen to it here.
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